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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

POST-MORTEM APPEARAKCES                                           441

The natural orifices, such* as the mouth, nostrils, rectum and vagina,
may show the presence of poisonous material, or the signs of its having been

It must be borne in mind that the presence of wounds or disease suffi-
cient to account for death does not contra-indicate the use of a poison. It is,
therefore, necessary to preserve the viscera in all cases of suspected
poisoning, even if there are no positive post-mortem signs of poisoning.

Internal Examination.—The alimentary system should be chiefly exa-
mined as the signs of irritant and corrosive poisons are likely to be found
in the oesophagus, stomach and intestines.

The changes produced by irritant and corrosive poisons in the digestive
tract, especially the stomach, are—

1.    Hypersemia.

2.    Softening.

3.    Ulceration of the mucous membrane,

4.    Perforation.

These have to be differentiated from similar appearances caused by
disease.and putrefaction. ,

1. Hypersemia.—Hyperaemia (redness) of the mucous membrane caused
by an irritant poison is generally marked at the cardiac end and greater
curvature of the stomach, but rarely at the pyloric end. It is usually of a
deep crimson colour, ,and inay be found either in patches or so diffused over
its whole surface as to give it a velvety appearance as in arsenical poisoning.
The mucous, membrane is often covered with a viscid secretion which toay
be blood-stained.                           ,^          , .                     . ,,

Instead of redness some other discoloration may be found due to poison
or fruit juice. For instance, a yellow colour may ]>e due to nitric acid, a
blue or green coloration to copper and. blackening raay be due to-sulphuric
acid poisoning. Discoloration produced by staining of fruit juice is uniform,
and is not marked by signs of inflammation.            ' - *

It-should be noted that the appearance of the mucous membranfe of the
stomach 'in the healthy -state is pale and white or nearly so, except during
the act of digestion; when it becomes reddened. Slight redness is* often
visible in the stomach, if-death has occurred during the process of digestion.
Redness-is also found in the stomach as a result of general venous congestion
in cases where death has occurred from asphyxia, It:is sometimes so intense
that it leads one to suspect poisoning^. ^ •                 - - --         c

r i" On the 3rd August 1929, a Brahmin male died all 6f a rsudden in a street while
returning from a dispensary where he had- gone for some medicine. Owing to a good
deal of redness of the mucous menijsrane of the stomach and the upper part of the
small intestine and general congestion of the other abdominal organs it was suspected
that death might be due to some irritant poison, but the microscopic examination of a
lung tissue showed that deatE *"Was due to lung apoplexy and the Chemical Examiner
did not find any poison in the viscera.                       f

Hyperaemia caused by Disease is uniformly spread over the whole
surface, and not in patches ; besides the ridges of the mucous membrane are
more likely to be involved in poisoning than in disease. Redness produced
by post-mortem hypostasis is limited to the posterior wall, the mosft depen-
dent part. In this case there is no thickening of the mucpus meB^J^aixe nor;
is there any glairy mucus on its1 surface.                                       , -, u

It is right to bear in mind that redness caused by poisoning jgui
altered "by putrefaction, but it is- difficult to give the exaet            '"

a change occurs.   It generally depends upon the nature of tifa
degree of decomposition.  "In st ease of arsenical p<HsoBihg;